Leading Korean distributor CJ Entertainment (CJE) has announced its 2007 business plan which includes investing $85m in more than 20 local productions this year, while at the same time expanding its global ties.

'While our local film industry was concentrating on sharing the pie instead of growing the market, domestic film exports hit a wall,' said CJE chief executive JS Kim. He added that the 2007 business plan is based on 'invigorating the Korean film industry' and 'battening Korean films in the long-term.'

CJE also plans to increase investment and distribution for independent films by setting up a new indie film division. The new unit will take over distribution offilms under the existing 'CJ Collection' arthouse brand, acquire further titles andexpand CJE's alternative distribution network through indie theatres such as the one it opened on the Yonsei University campus last November.

The company has also set up a family film team to work at discovering films that multiple generations can view together, in order to bring in new and more diverse audience demographics.

Globally, CJE, which distributes Paramount and DreamWorks titles in South Korea, is working to expand its network and connections with major US players. Towards this goal, it has invested an unspecified amount in Warner Brothers' upcoming August Rush, starring Robin Williams and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Plans to target Asian-American communities in the US are underfoot as CJE gears up to roll out Korean-American director Michael Kang's West 32nd Street, produced by Teddy Zee (Hitch) at home and abroad.

The company is also looking for ways to get Korean directors and actors in films produced by major US studios and aimed at the global market.

In Japan, CJE is investing in Kadokawa and Sega's production of cult director Miike Takashi's Like A Dragon, an adaptation of the Play Station 2 game.

It is also co-producing two other films with Kadokawa with simultaneous release in mind: melodrama First Snow starring Lee Joon-ki and Miyazaki Aoi, and horror film Black House starring Hwang Jung-min, a sequel to CJ and Kadokawa's inaugural co-production, One Last Call Final.

In China, CJE is working out a direct release of The Restless, which was filmed in the country and readying more than 60 films for DVD release. The company aims to announce a Korea-China co-production deal within the year, and continues to hold exchange film festivals, such as the China Film Festival held last year in Seoul.